Why Wench Betty's Story Matters - March 17, Virtual Program, Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Sue Kozel's picture

Hi, N-New Jersey

I hope you will consider participating in this March 17th virtual program to honor Women's History Month.  During the program sponsored by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association with support from the New Jersey Council for Humanities,  I will share the story of "Wench Betty" an ensaved murder victim killed by her New Jersey owner in 1784.  Please stay safe and thank you,  Sue Kozel



March 3, 2021

Contact: Michael Humphreys

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association   myhumphreys@gmail.com


Navesink Maritime Heritage Association Presents Talk with Sue Kozel:

“Why Wench Betty’s Story Matters: The 1784 Murder of an Enslaved Woman in Monmouth County”


RED BANK, NJ  -The gripping story of “Wench” Betty, an enslaved woman who defied her owner’s commands and lost her life to his violent retaliation, is the focus of a talk by historian Sue Kozel on March 17, 2021, from 7:30-8:30 PM. Presented virtually by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association in recognition of Women’s History Month, Kozel’s talk will explore this remarkable story and its implications for local history.


Using court documents and slaveowners’ records, Kozel will lead an interactive lecture/discussion looking at race, gender, and power at the end of the Revolutionary War - a time when powerful New Jerseyans were pulled between ideas of freedom and liberty and the cruel realities of legalized slavery.


“My interest is in resurrecting Betty’s story, and not having her only remembered in her death,” Kozel says. “It’s important to shine a light on stories like hers, and discuss how we create a full and accurate history of all of the people who lived in our county. In the telling of history, every life matters ”


The talk will build a fuller picture of the lives of people enslaved in Monmouth County - lives that often go overlooked because slave records did not always include complete details. Kozel will relate how her research pieces together nearly-lost narratives. 


“Women’s History Month gives us a time to look at stories that get lost, beyond the great men and the fifes and drums of the Revolution,” Kozel says. “By shining a light on Betty, we can ask ‘How does one life matter in the course of our history in New Jersey, and in our national story?’”


Kozel’s scholarly work often deals with freedom, abolition, and slavery. Designated as a Public Scholar by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, she has published numerous works on Black freedom, abolitionism, and American and New Jersey History. Recently retired from teaching university and community college history. She has been selected for a 2021 residential fellowship at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, located near Monticello, one of Thomas Jefferson’s slave plantations.


TO REGISTER: The talk is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. Sign up at https://www.navesinkmaritime.org/ to receive a link to the virtual program.


This program is supported by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities through the “NJ Women Vote: The 19th Amendment at 100” initiative. NMHA proudly presents it during Women’s History Month.


Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization preserving Monmouth County's maritime heritage. Through experiential on-the-water programs, wooden boatbuilding and boat handling education, and informative programs, the NMHA seeks to discover, engage, and sustain appreciation of the culture, history and traditions of local waterways.